ARTICLE: WHAT MAKES A TROPHY by David L. Falconer
“What did you get Falconer?” Robert asked as he stepped off his 4-wheeler like a cat leaving its perch. He had seen me in camp and was looking off toward the skinning tree where my buck hung.
“I got a buck,” I said. “It’s not the biggest buck but he took a lot of killin’”
Robert laughed hard. “I heard all that shootin’ and I said to myself only Falconer could reload his muzzleloader that fast!” He laughed some more. “Then I heard you go to the revolver and I KNEW it was you!”
I was chuckling some too. It was a heck of a story.
He walked up to the buck and held his head up, counting the holes and shaking his head. “How many times did you shoot it?” he asked.
“Four and 1/2,” I replied getting the laugh I knew I was gonna get.
“I heard the 1/2,” he said. “It was the next to last shot!” He looked me over speculatively, counting in his head. “You shot more than that,” he said.
“I missed once,” I admitted.
I had slept in on purpose that morning. The deer had not been moving in the mornings early so I had decided to go to my stand around 9am and hunt until after noon, expecting the deer to move later in the day. As I drove my 4 wheeler toward my stand, I was at the foot of Shiloh (one of the mountains on my property) and I saw a nice buck standing a little over 100 yards away with his head in some trees. His rack looked huge.
I stepped off the 4 wheeler and that buck ran to my left. Now if he had waited just one more minute for me to look over his antlers I would not have shot, but since he didn’t adrenaline took over and I pulled those cross-hairs in front of him and touched the smoke pole off. That buck tumbled rear end over tea kettle and I ran up the incline to my left, working to load my gun as I did. I stopped and saw the buck was standing, walking weakly and I knew I had hit him too far back as he stumbled for the creek. Just as he got to it I rose up and fired and he tumbled into the creek just as I shot.
“I am over here!!” Charles Haley, a buddy of mine bow hunting on the 40 acres across the county road. He yelled from his stand 40 yards into the woods. He said he could see the black smoke roll each time I shot and had no idea who was shooting or where they were shooting at!!
“I know where in the hell you’re at Charlie!” I yelled, the excitement and adrenaline probably making me sound more upset than I was.
I loaded my gun again and I saw the buck across the creek as I ran to the road and jumped off the embankment! Okay, that hurt!! I am not 15 anymore!! The buck was lying in the road and I shot him as he leap-frogged off the road.
He was out of sight and I drew the revolver as I walked down the road, the sound of my boots rhythmic and solid on the hard packed dirt. I thumb-cocked that black powder Old Army revolver as I got close and as soon as the buck seen me he whirled to take off and I shot him in the back of the neck.
Down he went and as he tried to get back up I fired again, the black powder only partly igniting as I seen the round ball strike and then roll down the neck of the buck. As he struggled to stand I fired again and he collapsed, his body relaxing as I stood over him, my heart slamming in my chest and my body suddenly shaking from the effects of the adrenaline. It felt like the encounter had been going on for hours.
I saw two of my friends on four wheelers coming by, unaware of all the shooting that had been going on because of the noise of their 4 wheelers. Up the road Charlie was emerging cautiously from the woods. A half mile away Robert was laughing his butt off in his deer stand, shaking his head at all the shooting.
As Melissa pulled up with her husband Michael behind her, she said, “What are you doing standing in the ditch?!”
I said, “Girl, I been in the middle of a whole lot of deer killing!”
Robert was touching the antlers on the buck as I told the story and he said, “Those antlers may not look it, but that is a heck of a trophy there Dave.”
“It was one of the most exciting hunts I have ever been on,” I said. “I screwed up when I didn’t kill him with the first shot.”
“You got him,” Robert said. “That’s what matters. You got a heck of a story to go with it.”
“He comes with a great story,” I agreed.
He said, “I knew no one except you could reload that fast. You have no idea how fast that second shot was after the first do you?”
“I was too busy running and loading to really know,” I admitted.
“It was fast,” he said.
The buck was a good 2 and 1/2 year old deer. One that I normally would have let walk but in the excitement he ran, and when he did I do what a lot of deer hunters do, I shot him.
Robert and I both remember when you shot the first legal buck you saw in Oklahoma because it could be the only opportunity you would get all season. That was just how it was for years and that reaction when the deer runs stems from that background I think.
Robert and David with the buck
Hunting together with your friends and family create some great memories. Great memories are the real trophies of the hunt.